Learning and MemoryMemory consolidation in human sleep depends on inhibition of glucocorticoid releasePlihal, Werner1; Born, Jan2,3Author Information 1Georg-Elias-Müller Instute of Psychology, University of Göttingen, 37073 Göttingen 2Clinical Neuroendocrinology, University of Lübeck, Ratzeburger Allee 160, Haus 23a, 23564 Lübeck, Germany 3Corresponding Author: Jan Born ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: We are grateful to A. Otterbein, A. Jürs and C. Zinke for technical assistance. We thank James L. McGaugh, Melly Oitzl and Larry R. Squire for critical reading and valuable comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. Supported by a grant from the DFG. Received 2 June 1999; accepted 5 July 1999 NeuroReport: September 9, 1999 - Volume 10 - Issue 13 - p 2741-2747 Buy Abstract EARLY sleep dominated by slow-wave sleep has been found to be particularly relevant for declarative memory formation via hippocampo–neocortical networks. Concurrently, early nocturnal sleep is characterized by an inhibition of glucocorticoid release from the adrenals. Here, we show in healthy humans that this inhibition serves to support declarative memory consolidation during sleep. Elevating plasma glucocorticoid concentration during early sleep by administration of cortisol impaired consolidation of paired associate words, but nou of non-declarative memory of visuomotor skills. Since glucocorticoid concentration was enhanced only during retention sleep, but not during acquisition or retrieval, a specific effect on the consolidation process is indicated. Blocking mineralocorticoid receptors by canrenoate did not affect memory, suggesting inactivation of glucocorticoid receptors to be the essential prerequisite for memory consolidation during early sleep. © 1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.